May 5th, 2010
10:30 AM ET

Immigration takes center court at Suns-Spurs playoffs

The Phoenix Suns will once again don their "Los Suns" jersey -- this time in response to Arizona's new immigration law.

It’s not often point guards and power forwards partake in politics.

Responding to a recently passed immigration policy in Arizona, the Phoenix Suns will take the court Wednesday in jerseys bearing their name in Spanish.

Robert Sarver, owner of “Los Suns,” said his team will wear the jerseys during Game Two of its playoff matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, which falls on the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo.

“We are proud that 400 players from 36 countries compete in the NBA, and the league and the Suns have always considered that to be a great strength of the NBA,” he said in a statement.

The move was designed, in part, to honor Phoenix’s Latino community, Sarver said.

The Suns also have a Latin-born player, guard Leandro Barbosa of Brazil. He is one of the NBA’s 18 players from Latin America. Hispanics compose about 15 percent of the NBA’s market, according to the league.

The new immigration law, which goes into effect in August, allows police in Arizona to demand proof of residency. Critics say the law encourages racial profiling. Proponents say it’s a necessary response to stem the tide of illegal immigrants flowing into the state.

The Suns’ protest was roundly supported by NBA players and officials, according to an report.

NBA Commissioner David Stern called the move “appropriate.” The NBA Players Association also praised the protest as NBAPA Executive Director Billy Hunter called the immigration law “offensive and incompatible with the basic notions of fairness and equal protection.”

Added star point guard Steve Nash: “Obviously the passing of the recent bill and what that means to our state, to civil liberties, and the quality and precedent it’s setting, and message it sends to our youngsters in the community, we have a problem with that. It's great that our owner took the initiative and our players are behind him.”

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Dan Patrick, the always outspoken Charles Barkley said the immigration law offended him, both as an African-American and as a resident of Arizona. He suggested the policy was merely a political ploy.

“Most of those immigrants here are busting their hump, doing a great job, and to go after them every couple of years because you want to raise hell doing something to get re-elected, that’s disrespectful and disgusting,” he said.

Despite that the Spurs will do battle with the Suns at 8 p.m. ET, at least one San Antonio player was able to find solidarity with his rivals.

Argentina-born guard Manu Ginobili said he hopes Arizona can find another way to deal with its immigration woes.

“I hope they change [the law] back to what it was and give the workers the possibility to be legal and pay taxes as everyone else,” he told

Wednesday won’t be the first time the NBA has honored the Latino community. In March, the league held Noche Latina (Latin Night), with Los Lakers, the Knicks of Nueva York, Miami’s El Heat and Dallas’ Los Mavs among nine teams wearing Spanish-language jerseys.

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Filed under: Immigration • Sports
soundoff (1,270 Responses)

    Chris, you're right on. Why on earth would a professional ball club want to be pushing an extreme agenda like this? First of all, just the act of changing the name endorses the far-left argument that the hispanics are being "singled out" as opposed to the truth, which is there is a law already on the books no matter where you are from! The law already exists you left-wing morons! Arizona is simply enforcing that law because Obama won't. So... you wanna put something on the jersey? How about this: YOU GET IN WHEN YOU GET LEGAL.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Go Spurs!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Phillip

    FUC*****K YOU Becki

    May 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. liausdhiufhap

    lets not use bad words now

    May 5, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Centaurlove

    @ Jason... Thanks for clarifying. Lets reevaluate after 120 days, once the law has been put in place. I'm sure the police force is being thoroughly trained to avoid any potential racial profiling conflicts. The last thing they want is to look bad with all this attention being paid toward them.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Phillip

    SHUT UP iausdhiufhap

    May 5, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |

    @ Bethany I agree. Seriously is anyone gonig to come up to The Gov. Jan Brewer and ask her of her legal status. Im sure when shes speaking at the Podium in front of thousands she doesnt have not one single form of ID on her. Do you think they would question her about her legal stauts. She sure wouldnt have proof that she was legal here on her? Would they take her into custody to check her legal status? Funny they will to someone that is hispanic or black. Legal or illegal

    May 5, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. liausdhiufhap

    the f word is not a good word'

    May 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Becki

    You wish Phillip! Sorry I'm taken. It's hard to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person. Why don't you try using your words (English ones-we ARE in America) instead of slang-I hear Hooked-On-Phonics works well!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |

    People need to remember that this just isnt about immigration us legal mexican-americans will be harrassed as well. That is illegal.. Get it right people

    May 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Slufootsue

    I find what the SUNS did discusting and disloyal not only to their state but to the LEGAL citizens of the United States. A rancher was murdered by illegals crossing illegally on his land, ILLEGALS have thoroughly exhausted our medical, school and legal systems. While they have been here illegally, they have also taken advantage of our freedom of speech and to assemble. They have no rights – they are illegal. The SUNS should stick to basketball and not politics. Shame on the SUNS. But then, they don't have to live by illegals, worry about being car-jacked by them, robbed or murdered by them. I guess what the SUNS are really stating is if it doesn't affect them, they don't care and by wearing the jerseys, they are saying they have no loyalty to the LEGAL CITIZENS THAT ARE fans, their state or country. NICE.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pam

    If you really want to know about illegal immigration, interview the border patrol, county law officials of counties on the border and the Shadow Wolves of the Tohono O'Odham Nation.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BeReal

    For those AZ nuts who believe the NEW law is going to really do anything to illegal immigration, WAKE UP!
    The new law encourage racial profiling not by writing this into the law, racial profiling for illegal immigration has been around the AZ and other state for ages. Police and immigration services in AZ and elsewhere have been raiding high immigrant density areas for years and years now arresting people for not having proper ID on the street. You ever seen "Born in East LA", that movie was made decades ago. The new AZ law is merely a political manuever to get more conservative votes in the next election, it has nothing to do with trying to solve illegal immigration problem, but everything to do with fooling gullible conservative for their vote.
    If AZ is really serious about cracking down on illegal immigration, make hiring illegal immigrants a fellony, with a hefty fine, lik ethe post by Zach suggested above. And allow the DA's and police to prosecute relentlessly for any voilation. Raid businesses hiring illegal, and fine the owners instead of raiding immigrant neighborhoods. That's the way to reduce in flow of illegal immigrants.
    I am also afraid if this is really done, AZ will see a price inflation higher than any of the SW states, like the old saying, be careful what you're asking for, you migjht just get it if you do it right. But it doesn mean you will like what you get at the end of the day, this nation is built on the backs of immigrants.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. getoutofmycountry

    I'm not worried. Even if Los Suns beat San Antonio, they still have to face Los Angeles.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Joker

    I doubt that any of these people making comments from the NBA have actually read the law. It does not change any thing that is already in effect. To summarize it, it says that the state will do it's part to enforce federal immigration law when a crime has been committed and only after the person has gone through the legal system here.

    Oddly enough, all the foreign NBA players are here legally. I suspect that this is more about the NBA getting cheap labor at the low end of the business than it is about fairness. Just think, if the NBA had to pay for legal hispanics only, they might actually have to pay a fair wage.

    Go Spurs!!

    May 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
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